Lego Super Mario seems like something that should have happened years ago, but as Mario himself might say, “Let’s-a go!” Working together with Nintendo, Lego plans to release a set of physical Super Mario toys that lets you craft your own intricate platforming levels, sort of like a real-life version of Super Mario Maker (which, incidentally, is one of our favorite games on Nintendo Switch).
Lego teased the announcement on March 10 (often colloquially known as Mario Day, thanks to its Mar. 10 abbreviation), and revealed a full video today (March 12). A press release, accompanied by a video, explained the pitch: You buy a physical Lego set with some specialized minifigs. At the center of the experience is a computerized Mario figure, which reacts to the other bricks, collecting coins taking damage and fighting baddies as he goes.
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The video below makes it easier to see the setup in action:
First off, the Mario figure itself looks incredibly intricate. Not only does it keep track of damage taken and coins collected, but it even times how long you have to complete each stage, plays the familiar Mario theme song and changes its facial expression with a few cleverly placed LED panels. Having to charge Mario up before his platforming adventures seems like it might be a pain, but it’s probably no worse than charging a Switch controller.
As for how the whole experience will work, start to finish, it’s hard to say. In the video, two kids build a Mario level, and guide Mario through it, stopping occasionally to “fight” enemies like Goombas, Piranha Plants and Baby Bowser. There are intricate physical moving platforms and traps, as well as digital power-ups and hazards. Even Yoshi shows up, although we’re not quite sure how the two characters will interact.
Since we’ve only seen one playset, it’s hard to tell whether kids will be able to build endless platform variations out of one set of bricks, or whether Lego will sell multiple playsets to tackle. (The latter is my guess, since the company has to make this profitable somehow.) Still, I’d be surprised if each playset includes only one “route,” as I doubt many kids could play the same short “level” over and over, ad infinitum. There will probably be a few different configurations for each playset, and there may be ways to modify Mario’s experience each time.
At the end of each level, Mario tallies up how many coins he received, suggesting there may be rewards to collect, and perhaps even some kind of “endgame.” It’d be as good an incentive as any to buy multiple playsets, particularly if you can mix and match pieces between various kits.
I’m unsure how Lego purists will feel about the Lego Super Mario set, as it doesn’t seem extremely compatible with existing Lego bricks. (Universal compatibility is one of the reasons why people swear by the Lego brand in the first place.) But it’s definitely a kind of toys-to-life video game experience we haven’t seen before, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
If you have kids, consider showing them the video, too — but only if you’re OK with them pestering you about it every day until it actually comes out.